At her aunt and uncle's Advent party, Aksinya is approached by a young gentleman who claims to have her book of sorcery, and who claims to have observed her make the great enchantment outside the Golden Adler Gasthaus. He has her book and knows her secret--he offers her another temptation...
But I have another temptation.”
Aksinya stared at him. An angry scowl set her features.
He didn’t seem to notice Aksinya’s very dangerous appearance, “I have another book that your courtier told me you would desire. It is one you have not seen before.”
Aksinya trembled, “Which book is it?”
“It is the book of Heka…”
“That is ancient Egyptian. It isn’t effective.”
“The Heka I have is Greek. It isn’t death sorcery of the Egyptians but the practice of light. I know you are interested.”
Aksinya took a breath, “If it is a Greek Heka…”
“It is a Greek Heka.”
“What about my book. You stole it.”
“Those are strong words, Countess. You dropped it in the street. I picked it up for you. Who’s to say who such a book belongs to?”
“It is mine, and you know it.”
“I also know that you are a marvelous sorceress, and I wish to entertain you.”
“I will not accommodate any lewd behavior.”
“Lewd behavior? Countess, you mistake my intention. I wish to woo you. I do not wish to seduce you.”
“How can I trust your intentions?”
“I have your book,” he laughed.
“And you blackmail me with it?”
“I only want to take you to dine and to a play, the ballet, or to a concert. Surely that is not lewd.”
“I will bring my lady-in-waiting as a chaperone.”
“You may bring your guardian nun as well.”
Aksinya sat back, “Pardon me then. I did not understand your intentions.”
“My intentions are pure, but I would like to know much, much more about this enchanting sorceress who came to Wien. The moment your courtier described you, I had to meet you.”
Aksinya stared suspiciously at him, “Just where did you meet my courtier?”
A puzzled look crossed Ernst von Taaffe’s features, “I don’t entirely remember, Countess, but wherever and whenever it was, I am thankful for it because that meeting led me to you.”
“You don’t think me plain, diminutive, and unwomanly.”
Ernest von Taaffe bowed his head, “On the contrary, I find you mysterious, powerful, and exciting.” He glanced up, “I will contact you at your house. Please make an evening open for me next week.”
Aksinya sighed, “I will entertain you when you visit. Please return my book.”
Ernst rose, “Not until you attend a dinner and an evening event with me. Then I will discuss the return of your book. It is late or I would ask you to dance. Countess,” he bowed deeply and wandered back to the ballroom floor.
Aksinya slumped in her seat. When Natalya finally returned, Aksinya drank the whole glass of wine and sent Natalya back for more.
Ernst von Taaffe has obviously been conversing with Asmodeus. He knows a lot about Aksinya, and he is infatuated with her. He also is prepared with ammunition to force her to accede to his demands. Aksinya is sensitive to temptation, but she can't fight against it--not against the right kind of temptation. This temptation is a new book of sorcery. If you didn't figure it out already, Aksinya is extremely tempted about new knowledge of sorcery. Ernst knows this is the cap on the temptation. Already he knows her secret, he has her book, now, he tells her he has another book. It is a book she covets.
The conversation continues to details about Aksinya and then turns to Ernst's desires. He wishes to entertain her. Ernst wishes to woo her, and he tells her that because he has her book, she must do as he wishes. He offers to take her to dinner and the theater. Aksinya tells him, she will bring Natalya, and he ups it. Aksinya may bring Sister Margarethe if she wishes. Notice, this is significantly private information that Ernst knows. The depth of his information and his response brings about Aksinya's reply about his intentions.
Aksinya asks where Ernst met Asmodeus, and the young man can't remember. The demon has been busy. This is the point of the demon's work. He works all the time. His plans are insidious and pernicious. Aksinya may realize how powerful they are, but can she really fight against them? Is there any hope for her?
Aksinya counters with a list of her perceived physical issues. He calls her mysterious, powerful, and exciting. We know she is. He makes the date, and Aksinya agrees. She just wants her book--she realizes how dangerous it is in anyone else's hands. He honors her again and explains why he won't ask her to dance--it is too late.
Aksinya drinks the remainder of the evening. Tomorrow, we begin chapter 11.